Morgan Stanley to acquire E-Trade for $58.74 per share

Morgan Stanley acquires E-Trade in all-stock deal valued at $13B

Morgan Stanley (MS) and E-Trade Financial (ETFC) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Morgan Stanley will acquire E-Trade in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $13B.

Etrade sold for $13 B, Stockwinners

Under the terms of the agreement, E-Trade stockholders will receive 1.0432 Morgan Stanley shares for each E-Trade share, which represents per share consideration of $58.74 based on the closing price of Morgan Stanley.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval by E-Trade shareholders, and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Morgan Stanley pays $13B for Etrade. Stockwinners

The transaction provides “significant upside potential” for shareholders of both Morgan Stanley and E-Trade, the company said in a statement.

“Shareholders from both companies will benefit from potential cost savings estimated at approximately $400 million from maximizing efficiencies of technology infrastructure, optimizing shared corporate services and combining the bank entities, as well as potential funding synergies of approximately $150 million from optimizing E-Trade’s approximate $56 billion of deposits,” they said.

Morgan Stanley said its “full-service, advisor-driven model coupled with E-Trade”s direct-to-consumer and digital capabilities, will allow the combined business to have best-in-class product and service offerings to support the full spectrum of wealth.”

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Watch Jazz Pharmaceuticals!

Jazz Pharmaceuticals receives EU Marketing Authorization for Sunosi

Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) announced that the European Commission approved Sunosi to improve wakefulness and reduce excessive daytime sleepiness in adults with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea whose EDS has not been satisfactorily treated by primary OSA therapy, such as continuous positive airway pressure.

Jazz should be in play, Stockwinners

Sunosi is the first dual-acting dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor approved to treat EDS in adults living with narcolepsy or OSA and the only licensed therapy in the European Union for the treatment of EDS in adults living with OSA.

Once-daily Sunosi is approved with doses of 75 mg and 150 mg for people with narcolepsy and doses of 37.5 mg, 75 mg and 150 mg for patients with OSA.

Sunosi is approved in Europe, Stockwinners

At Week 12 of the Phase 3 clinical trial, 150 mg of solriamfetol for narcolepsy patients and both 75 mg and 150 mg doses for OSA patients demonstrated improvements in wakefulness compared to placebo as assessed via the maintenance of wakefulness test from approximately one hour post-dose through approximately nine hours post-dose.

The European Commission approval extends to all European Union Member States, as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The Marketing Authorization Application for Sunosi is based on data from four randomized placebo-controlled studies included in the Treatment of Obstructive sleep apnea and Narcolepsy Excessive Sleepiness clinical trial program.

Data from the studies in the TONES program demonstrated the superiority of solriamfetol relative to placebo.

The Marketing Authorisation Application (MAA) for Sunosi is based on data from four randomised placebo-controlled studies included in the Treatment of Obstructive sleep apnea and Narcolepsy Excessive Sleepiness (TONES) clinical trial program. Data from the studies in the TONES program demonstrated the superiority of solriamfetol relative to placebo.

JAZZ closed at $151.05.

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ArQule sold for $2.7 billion

Merck to acquire ArQule for $20 per share

Merck (MRK) and ArQule (ARQL) announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire ArQule for $20 per share in cash for an approximate total equity value of $2.7B.

Merck buys ArQule for $2.7B, Stockwinners

ArQule’s lead investigational candidate, ARQ 531, is a novel, oral Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, or BTK, inhibitor currently in a Phase 2 dose expansion study for the treatment of B-cell malignancies.

BTK inhibition has been shown to prevent B-cell receptor signaling that is critical for the survival and proliferation of leukemic cells in many B-cell malignancies.

Merck presents results from Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 study, Stockwinners
Merck buys ArQule, Stockwinners

ARQ 531 is a selective, reversible inhibitor that blocks both wild-type BTK and the C481S mutant form of the enzyme that is commonly associated with resistance to other BTK inhibitors.

In early clinical trials, ARQ 531 demonstrated a manageable safety profile and early signs of anti-tumor activity for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL, and Richter’s Transformation.

ArQule lead investigative drug is ARQ531

Final data from the Phase 1 study of ARQ 531 will be presented on December 9 at the 61st American Society of Hematology, or ASH.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement announced, Merck, through a subsidiary, will initiate a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of ArQule.

The closing of the tender offer will be subject to certain conditions, including the tender of shares representing at least a majority of the total number of ArQule’s outstanding shares, the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary conditions.

Upon the successful completion of the tender offer, Merck’s acquisition subsidiary will be merged into ArQule, and any remaining shares of common stock of ArQule will be canceled and converted into the right to receive the same $20 per share price payable in the tender offer.

The transaction is expected to close early in Q1 of 2020.

ARQL closed at $9.66, last traded at $19.90.

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Medicines Co. is in play

Novartis holds talks about potential acquisition of Medicines Co

Medicines Co. (MDCO) has attracted takeover interest from companies including Novartis (NVS), which has been holding talks about a potential acquisition of the New Jersey-based company, Bloomberg’s Ed Hammond, Nabila Ahmed and Dinesh Nair report, citing people familiar with the matter.

Novartis is eyeing Medicines Co., Stockwinners

According to the people, Novartis is conducting due diligence on Medicines Co. Other potential acquirers have also expressed interest in buying Medicines Co., they add.

Novartis is looking for products to replace its out of patent products, Stockwinners

The Medicines Company focuses on developing therapeutics for the treatment of therosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The company is developing Inclisiran, an investigational RNA interference therapeutic that inhibits production of proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9, which controls LDL-cholesterol levels.

Novartis has historically had a strong cardiovascular drug franchise, but lost ground when Diovan, once a $6 billion-per-year seller, lost patent protection in 2012 and left the company without an immediate, innovative follow-up product.

Novartis Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan has relied on deals to sharpen the company’s focus on innovative drugs for cancer and rare diseases. The Basel, Switzerland-based company has announced close to $16 billion of acquisitions since he took over as CEO in February 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He has also spun off the Alcon Inc. eye-care division and ditched a stake in a consumer-health venture.

Baird’s Comments

Baird analyst Madhu Kumar said he has utter conviction that The Medicine’s Co. inclisiran can disrupt cholesterol therapy. The analyst cited its results from the ORION-9/10/11 trial which was released and supported his thesis. He said the remaining question is whether the company can find an acquirer or partner to help launch inclisiran.

Kumar reiterated his Outperform rating and $100 price target on The Medicine’s Co. shares.

JPMorgan’s Take

JPMorgan analyst Jessica Fye noted that Bloomberg is reporting that Novartis (NVS) and other potential acquirers have expressed interest in buying The Medicines Company (MDCO), adding that her talks with investors indicate that Novartis is viewed as the most likely buyer.

She further notes that Medicines Co. shares were trading above her standalone valuation at yesterday’s close, which she attributes to some anticipation of a deal, and that today’s move puts the stock in a price range greater than 40% above her standalone target.

Outside of Novartis, Fye also believes an acquirer could be a less expected company, but if only one company is interested they could try to “wait it out” to the point where investors might begin to worry that Medicines could have to take on the substantial inclisiran launch investment independently. However, if multiple players are interested, as Bloomberg suggests, she thinks “competitive tension” could lead to a near-term acquisition.

MDCO is up $12.35 to $71.00.

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Tech Data sold for $5.4 billion

Tech Data to be acquired by Apollo Global for $130 per share in cash

Tech Data (TECD) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management (APO).

Tech Data is taken private at $130 per share, Stockwinners

Through the agreement, the affiliate of the Apollo Funds will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Tech Data common stock for $130 per share in a transaction with an enterprise value of approximately $5.4B.

Apollo buys Tech Data for $5.4B, Stockwinners

The purchase price represents a 24.5% premium to the unaffected 30-day volume weighted average closing share price of Tech Data’s common stock ended October 15, the last trading day prior to published market speculation regarding a potential transaction involving the company.

The Tech Data Board of Directors has unanimously approved the transaction and recommends that Tech Data shareholders vote in favor of the transaction.

The transaction is not subject to a financing condition and is expected to close in the first half of calendar year 2020, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions including expiration or termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, foreign regulatory approvals and approval by the holders of a majority of the outstanding Tech Data shares.

Tech Data expects to hold a Special Meeting of Shareholders to consider and vote on the transaction agreement as soon as feasible after the mailing of the proxy statement to shareholders.

Consistent with the Board’s commitment to maximizing shareholder value, the terms of the agreement provide that Tech Data will be permitted to actively solicit alternative acquisition proposals from third parties during a “go-shop” period from the date of the agreement until December 9.

There is no guarantee that this process will result in a superior proposal. Following the close of the transaction, Rich Hume will continue to lead Tech Data as CEO, and the company will continue to be headquartered in Clearwater, Florida.

Tech Data will become a privately held company, and Tech Data’s common shares will no longer be publicly listed.

Tech Data Corporation operates as an IT distribution and solutions company. The company offers endpoint portfolio solutions, including personal computer systems, mobile phones and accessories, printers, peripherals, supplies, endpoint technology software, and consumer electronics. It also provides advanced portfolio solutions, such as data center technologies comprising storage, networking, servers, advanced technology software, and converged and hyper-converged infrastructure, as well as specialized solutions. 

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Nektar Therapeutics is in focus

Nektar presents new clinical, preclinical data from immuno-oncology pipeline

Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) announced the presentation of five clinical and preclinical data abstracts focused on its immuno-oncology portfolio at the 2019 Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Annual Meeting.

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Nektar Therapeutics is in focus, Stockwinners

New clinical results from the PIVOT-02 Phase 1/2 study were shared in an oral presentation titled, “Clinical activity of BEMPEG plus NIVO in previously untreated patients with metastatic melanoma: updated results from the Phase 1/2 PIVOT-02 Study” during the Combination Phase 1-2 Clinical Trials Session on Saturday, November 9th.

Additional preclinical data presented at the annual meeting highlighted NKTR-255, an IL-15 agonist discovered by Nektar.

The presentations demonstrated that NKTR-255 enhanced activity of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity against tumor cells in vitro, and that it also enhanced in vivo efficacy of ADCC-inducing antibodies in models of human solid tumors.

NKTR-255 is designed to engage the IL-15 pathway to stimulate and expand natural killer cells and promote the survival and expansion of memory CD8+ T cells without inducing suppressive regulatory T cells.

Nektar product pipeline, Stockwinners

NKTR-255 is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in patients with either relapsed or refractory Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or multiple myeloma.

“The data presented at this year’s SITC meeting continue to showcase the potential of our I-O portfolio, most notably our key IL-2 pathway program, bempeg, and our new IL-15 pathway program, NKTR-255,” said Jonathan Zalevsky, Ph.D., Chief Research & Development Officer at Nektar.

“The 18-month follow-up data presentation for the Stage IV melanoma patients in our PIVOT-02 study reinforces the promise of BEMPEG and NIVO to work synergistically to achieve a deepening of response over time, while maintaining a favorable safety and tolerability profile. We’re pleased that at this 18 month timepoint, 85% of patients who achieved responses have ongoing responses and median PFS has not yet been reached.”

Separately, Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) announced updated results from the first-in-human Phase 1a study of NKTR-358, a novel T regulatory cell stimulator in development for the treatment of autoimmune and other chronic inflammatory conditions.

Nektar reports new data, Stockwinners

The data, which were presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Atlanta, show that treatment with NKTR-358 led to a marked and selective dose-dependent expansion in the numbers and proliferative capacity of FoxP3+CD25bright Treg cells, and a measurable activation of Treg cells.

These data are a continuation of initial results reported at 2019 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in June 2019.

NKTR-358 is designed to treat autoimmune and inflammatory conditions by correcting the immune system imbalance that results from reduced numbers and impaired function of immune-regulating Treg cells.

NKTR-358 works by targeting the interleukin-2 receptor complex to stimulate the proliferation and activation of Treg cells.

NKTR-358 was discovered by Nektar and is being co-developed and commercialized in partnership with Eli Lilly (LLY).

Eli Lilly announces Alimta label expanded by FDA, Stockwinners
Eli Lilly and Nektar report new data, Stockwinners

“We’re pleased to report that final results from our first-in-human Phase 1a study continue to support the positive safety and tolerability profile of NKTR-358, while reinforcing its selective and measurable impact on the numbers, expansion and activation of regulatory T cells or Tregs,” said Brian Kotzin, M.D., senior VP, Clinical Development and NKTR-358 Program Lead at Nektar.

“Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are marked by an imbalance in the body’s self-tolerance and self-regulatory immune pathways, and the ability of NKTR-358 to expand functional Tregs could help restore normal balance.

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Liberty Property Trust sold for about $61 per share

Prologis to acquire Liberty Property for $12.6B

Prologis (PLD) and Liberty Property Trust (LPT) announced that the two companies have entered into a definitive merger agreement by which Prologis will acquire Liberty in an all-stock transaction, valued at approximately $12.6B, including the assumption of debt.

Prologis buys Liberty Property Trust, Stockwinners

The board of Prologis and the board of trustees of Liberty have each unanimously approved the transaction.

Warehouses and logistics facilities — Liberty’s specialty — have become a hot part of the real estate market as more shopping moves online and demand for the space increases. 

The acquisition gives Prologis a portfolio of 107 million square feet of logistics properties that’s owned or managed, as well as buildings under construction and land for future development. It also includes 4.9 million square feet of office space.

Prologis plans to dispose of approximately $3.5B of assets on a pro rata share basis. This includes $2.8B of non-strategic logistics properties and $700M of office properties.

This transaction is anticipated to create immediate cost synergies of approximately $120M from corporate general and administrative cost savings, operating leverage, lower interest expense and lease adjustments.

Initially, this transaction is expected to increase annual core funds from operations per share by 10c-12c. Upon stabilization of the acquired development assets, completion of the planned non-strategic asset sales and redeployment of the related proceeds, annual stabilized core FFO per share is forecasted to increase by an additional 4c per share for a total of 14c-16c.

Liberty holds mostly class A properties, Stockwinners

Further, there are future synergies with the potential to generate approximately $60M in annual savings, including $10M from revenue synergies and $50M from incremental development value creation.

“Liberty’s logistics assets are highly complementary to our U.S. portfolio, and this acquisition increases our holdings and growth potential in several key markets,” Prologis Chairman and Chief Executive Hamid R. Moghadam said in the statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Liberty shareholders will receive 0.675x of a Prologis share for each Liberty share they own.

The transaction, which is currently expected to close in Q1 of 2020, is subject to the approval of Liberty shareholders and other customary closing conditions.

Liberty shares have risen 21% this year, compared with the 55% jump in Prologis shares. 

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Watch Shares of Adverum Biotechnologies!

Adverum Biotechnologies reports additional data from Phase 1 trial of ADVM-022

Adverum Biotechnologies (ADVM) announced additional clinical data for the first cohort of patients in the ongoing OPTIC phase 1 clinical trial of ADVM-022, the company’s intravitreal injection gene therapy, in treatment-experienced patients with wet age-related macular degeneration.

Adverum Biotechnologies reports additional data from Phase 1 trial of ADVM-022 in patients with wet age-related macular degeneration, Stockwinners

Adverum also announced enrollment plans for the third and fourth cohorts in the ongoing OPTIC trial.

The third cohort has been initiated and patients will be treated with ADVM-022 at a dose of 2 x 10^11 vg/eye, the same dose used in the second cohort.

Subsequently, patients in the fourth cohort will be treated with ADVM-022 at a dose of 6×10^11 vg/eye, the same dose used in the first cohort.

Since inflammation has generally been mild and responsive to steroid eye drops, patients in the third and fourth cohorts will receive prophylactic steroid eye drops instead of prophylactic oral steroids.

Previously, on September 12, 2019, Adverum presented data from the first cohort in the ongoing OPTIC trial at a pre-specified 24-week time point.

Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration, Stockwinners

The additional data for this cohort includes key outcomes with a median follow-up of 34 weeks.

In treatment-experienced patients previously requiring frequent anti-VEGF injections to maintain vision, the data continue to demonstrate that the single ADVM-022 injection in this cohort was sufficient to maintain vision, with zero rescue injections required for any of the six patients.

Aaron Osborne, MBBS, chief medical officer of Adverum, added, “The clinical profile of ADVM-022 demonstrates this gene therapy’s potential to be a significant advance for patients with wet AMD. It is very encouraging that there continues to be zero rescue injections in this cohort of treatment-experienced patients with more than 6 months follow-up on all patients. We are expanding the development of ADVM-022 and are excited to share that enrollment is now open for the third cohort in OPTIC.

We look forward to being able to deliver this novel intravitreal gene therapy candidate as soon as possible to patients with wet AMD and diabetic retinopathy, our second indication for ADVM-022. We are grateful for all of the investigators, patients, and caregivers who continue to participate in the OPTIC trial.”

Adverum plans to begin dosing patients in the third cohort of the OPTIC trial in the fourth quarter of 2019 and plans to begin enrollment in the fourth cohort in the first quarter of 2020.

Adverum plans to present 52-week data from the first cohort of patients in the OPTIC trial as well as 24-week data from the second cohort of patients in the first half of 2020.

Adverum plans to submit an investigational new drug application for the treatment of ADVM-022 in diabetic retinopathy in the first half of 2020.

Piper Jaffray

Commenting on Adverum Biotechnologies update at AAO, Piper Jaffray analyst Tyler Van Buren notes that zero rescue injections have been required and disease activity by OCT and visual acuity has been maintained with 6 ADVM-022 patients now out to a median of 34 weeks.

Importantly, despite the intense criticism over inflammation and visual acuity fluctuations during the initial data disclosure last month, numerous KOLs at the conference were unconcerned and believe that ADVM-022 looks like a potential treatment option so far, he contends.

Overall, the analyst argues that safety continues to be clean in these initial patients and looks forward to the 52-week update in first half of 2020.

Van Buren reiterates an Overweight rating and $14 price target on the shares as ADVM-022 continues to look like a viable gene therapy candidate for wet AMD, which has $1B-plus potential.

ADVM closed at $5.29.

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Allergan sold for $63 billion

AbbVie to acquire Allergan in cash, stock deal valued around $63B

Watch Allergan into better botox data. See Stockwinners.com
Allergan sold for $63 billion, Stockwinners

AbbVie (ABBV) and Allergan (AGN) announced that the companies have entered into a definitive transaction agreement under which AbbVie will acquire Allergan in a cash and stock transaction for a transaction equity value of approximately $63B, based on the closing price of AbbVie’s common stock of $78.45 on June 24.

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Abbvie to pay $63B to buy Allergan, Stockwinners

Upon completion of the transaction, AbbVie will continue to be incorporated in Delaware as AbbVie Inc. and have its principal executive offices in North Chicago, IL.

AbbVie will continue to be led by Richard Gonzalez as chairman and CEO.

Two members of Allergan’s board, including chairman and CEO, Brent Saunders, will join AbbVie’s board upon completion of the transaction.

Under the terms of the Transaction Agreement, Allergan Shareholders will receive 0.8660 AbbVie Shares and $120.30 in cash for each Allergan Share that they hold, for a total consideration of $188.24 per Allergan Share.

The transaction represents a 45% premium to the closing price of Allergan’s Shares on June 24.

AbbVie anticipates that the Acquisition will provide annual pre-tax synergies and other cost reductions of at least $2B in year three while leaving investments in key growth franchises untouched.

Botox is one of Allergan’s leading products, Stockwinners

The synergies and other cost reductions will be a result of optimizing the research and early stage portfolio, and reducing overlapping R&D resources, driving efficiencies in SG&A, including sales and marketing and central support function costs, and eliminating redundancies in manufacturing and supply chain, and leveraging procurement spend.

The synergies estimate excludes any potential revenue synergies.

AbbVie is expected to generate significant annual operating cash flow, which will support a debt reduction target of $15B to $18B before the end of 2021, while also enabling a continued commitment to Baa2/BBB or better credit rating and continued dividend growth.

It is expected that, immediately after the closing of the Acquisition, AbbVie Shareholders will own approximately 83% of AbbVie on a fully diluted basis and the Allergan Shareholders will own approximately 17% of AbbVie on a fully diluted basis.

PIPER COMMENTS

Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Raymond said his first reaction to the deal could be summed up with the phrase “two turkeys don’t make an eagle,” but he is “willing to listen” despite his skepticism about the transaction.

Though he cannot say he is “excited at the prospect of AbbVie entering the field of medical aesthetics,” EPS accretion of 10% in year one and over 20% at peak, and the potential for meaningful deleveraging and cost cutting, has his attention, Raymond said. He keeps a Neutral rating on AbbVie based on his initial reaction to the deal announcement.

Humira is AbbVie’s blockbuster drug, Stockwinners

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo analyst David #Maris said he views the deal as a good alternative for Allergan versus the current share price, but he is not convinced its a better long term alternative given the eventual biosimilar threat to Abbvie’s blockbuster drug Humira.

With that said, Maris tells investors that “deals at such premiums are rarely killed because of a bad strategic fit or longer -term value outlook in the absence of other bidders.” Though he would not completely rule out an activist investor disrupting the deal, he thinks it is unlikely given there has been a strategic review of the company for some time. Maris, who said he thinks the deal could go through, keeps an Outperform rating on Allergan shares.

Leerink 

SVB Leerink analyst Marc Goodman is not surprise that one of the large pharma companies has made a bid on Allergan (AGN) given the multi-year stock weakness.

Juvederm is another one of Allergan’s top selling products. Stockwinners

However, he believes a $188 price is “too low,” as he “can’t believe that Allergan is not being taken out at least at $200,” which “begs the question” whether this was a process or is AbbVie (ABBV) “opportunistically pursuing a wounded stock.” If it is the latter, Goodman believes this bid could initiate others to pursue Allergan as well. He has an Outperform rating on Allegan’s shares.

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Caesars Entertainment sold for $17.3 B

Eldorado Resorts to acquire Caesars for $12.75 per share, or about $17.3B

Eldorado Resorts to buy Caesars for $17.3B, Stockwinners

Eldorado Resorts (ERI) and Caesars Entertainment (CZR) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create the largest U.S. gaming company.

Caesars Entertainment sold for $17.3 billion, Stockwinners

Eldorado will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Caesars for a total value of $12.75 per share, consisting of $8.40 per share in cash consideration and 0.0899 shares of Eldorado common stock for each Caesars share of common stock based on Eldorado’s 30-calendar day volume weighted average price per share as of May 23, reflecting total consideration of approximately $17.3B, comprised of $7.2B in cash, approximately 77M Eldorado common shares and the assumption of Caesars outstanding net debt.

Caesars shareholders will be offered a consideration election mechanism that is subject to proration pursuant to the definitive merger agreement.

Giving effect to the transaction, Eldorado and Caesars shareholders will hold approximately 51% and 49% of the combined company’s outstanding shares, respectively.

Upon completion of the transaction the combined company will retain the Caesars name to capitalize on the value of the iconic global brand and its legacy of leadership in the global gaming industry.

The new company will continue to trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

The combined company’s Board of Directors will consist of 11 members, six of whom will come from Eldorado’s Board of Directors and five of whom will come from Caesars Board of Directors.

The transactions have been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of Eldorado, Caesars and VICI.

The Caesars transaction is subject to approval of the stockholders of Eldorado and Caesars, the approval of applicable gaming authorities, the expiration of the applicable Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to be consummated in the first half of 2020.


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International Speedway sold for $2 billion

NASCAR to acquire International Speedway for $45.00 per share

NASCAR to acquire International Speedway for $45.00 per share, Stockwinners

International Speedway (ISCA) has entered into an agreement and plan of merger with NASCAR pursuant to which NASCAR will acquire ISC.

The transaction is valued at approximately $2B. The consideration to be paid to ISC’s shareholders will be $45.00 in cash for each share of ISC Class A common stock and ISC Class B common stock.

The merger agreement was unanimously recommended and approved by a special committee comprised solely of independent directors of the board of ISC and was unanimously approved by the full board.

NASCAR to acquire International Speedway for $2B, Stockwinners

In addition, the participating shareholders have signed a letter agreement to cause their respective shares of ISC Class A common stock and ISC Class B common stock to be transferred to NASCAR prior to the effective time of the merger.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, ISC shareholders will be entitled to receive $45.00 in cash, without interest, for each share of ISC Class A common stock and ISC Class B common stock held immediately prior to the effective time of the merger.

The transaction, which is expected to close in calendar year 2019, is conditioned on the approval of a majority of the aggregate voting power represented by the shares of ISC Class A common stock and ISC Class B common stock not owned by the controlling shareholders of ISC, voting together as a single class.

The transaction is also conditioned on other customary closing conditions.

In connection with the transaction negotiations, counsel for the plaintiff in The Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis v. James C. France, the previously-disclosed class action lawsuit on behalf of ISC shareholders challenging the transaction, met with representatives of the special committee and has determined to not challenge the fairness of the transaction price.

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Circor receives $1.7B takeover offer

Crane proposes to acquire Circor for $45.00 per share in cash

Crane proposes to acquire Circor for $45.00 per share in cash, Stockwinners

Crane Co. (CR) announced that it has submitted a proposal to the Board of Directors of CIRCOR International (CIR) to acquire CIRCOR for $45 per share in cash.

CIRCOR International, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets engineered products and sub-systems worldwide. It operates through three segments: Energy, Aerospace and Defense, and Industrial. 

The proposal represents a 47% premium over yesterday’s closing price and a 37% and 51% premium over a three- and six-month volume weighted average share price, respectively.

This reflects an enterprise value of approximately $1.7B at a multiple of approximately 13.5x the last 12-month adjusted EBITDA. Crane Co. proposed the all-cash transaction to CIRCOR’s President and CEO Scott Buckhout on April 30, the terms of which were confirmed by a letter to the CIRCOR Board of Directors.

On May 13, the CIRCOR Board summarily rejected Crane Co.’s proposal with no offer of discussions or due diligence.

“While we had hoped to complete a transaction privately, the Board’s rejection of our proposal without comment or discussion led to our decision to make our proposal known to CIRCOR shareholders so they can express their views directly to the CIRCOR Board,” said Max Mitchell, Crane Co. President and CEO.

“Our proposal provides CIRCOR shareholders with attractive value and certainty compared to the continued uncertainty surrounding CIRCOR’s plans to improve operating performance.

Based on CIRCOR’s history of underperformance and inability to meet its own financial targets, we believe CIRCOR’s standalone plan is unlikely to generate value comparable to what we are proposing.”

Mitchell continued, “We believe that this business, which has great brands and products, has been meaningfully undermanaged for years.

This has resulted in a persistent decline in CIRCOR’s share price, making it the worst performer of the peers in the S&P Midcap Capital Goods Index since the end of 2013.

Based upon the strength of our disciplined operating approach, Crane Co. is well positioned to integrate CIRCOR’s businesses into our focused portfolio, realize operational synergies, and deliver long-term value to Crane shareholders.

Combining CIRCOR’s Fluid Handling, Aerospace and Defense assets with Crane’s portfolio of leading brands would create a stronger competitor with additional scale and growth potential.”

CIR +13.49 to $44.15.

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HP Enterprise to acquire Cray for $35 per share

HP Enterprise to acquire Cray in deal valued at $1.3B

HP Enterprise to buy Cray Research, Stockwinners

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Cray (CRAY) announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which HPE will acquire Cray for $35.00 per share in cash, in a transaction valued at approximately $1.3B, net of cash.

Cray Inc. designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and services computing products for high-performance computing, data analytics, and AI markets. It operates through Supercomputing, Storage and Data Management, Maintenance and Support, and Engineering Services and Other segments. 

Cray sold to HPE for $1.3 billion, Stockwinners

“Bringing together HPE and Cray enables an enhanced financial profile for the combined company that includes several revenue growth opportunities and cost synergies.

The companies expect the combination to drive significant revenue growth opportunities by:

Capitalizing on the growing HPC segment of the market and Exascale opportunities; Enhancing HPE’s customer base with a complementary footprint in federal business and academia and the company’s ability to accelerate commercial supercomputing adoption; Introducing new offerings in AI / ML and HPC-as-a-service with HPE GreenLake; We also expect to deliver significant cost synergies through efficiencies and by leveraging proprietary Cray technology, like the Slingshot interconnect, to lower costs and improve product performance.”

As a result of the enhanced financial profiles of the combined companies, the deal is expected to be accretive to HPE non-GAAP operating profit and earnings in the first full year following the close.

As part of the transaction, HPE expects to incur one-time integration costs that will be absorbed within HPE’s FY20 free cash flow outlook of $1.9B-$2.1B that remains unchanged.

The transaction is expected to close by the first quarter of HPE’s fiscal year 2020, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

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Zoosk sold for $255 million

Spark Networks to acquire Zoosk, sees adjusted EBITDA to exceed $50M in 2020

Spark Networks (LOV) announced its entry into a definitive agreement to acquire Zoosk.

Zoosk shareholders will receive $95 million in cash, Stockwinners

The combination will drive a meaningful increase in Spark’s scale, with over one million monthly paying subscribers across the two platforms. Spark expects the transaction to drive meaningful margin expansion in 2020 and beyond.

“Zoosk is one of the strongest dating apps in the North American market, which comprises half of the $5B global online dating opportunity,” said Jeronimo Folgueira, Chief Executive Officer of Spark Networks SE.

“Similarly, North America has been a key strategic market for Spark, and the focal point for our growth initiatives. Our deal with Zoosk creates the second largest online dating platform in North America and the second largest publicly-listed dating company in the world.

Spark buys Zoosk for $255 million, Stockwinners

Over the past 18 months, our management team has successfully integrated acquisitions and developed new brands. As a result of these efforts, our brand portfolio now includes SilverSingles, which continues to exceed our expectations, and the Christian Mingle, Jdate and JSwipe brands, which have all shown significant improvement since they were acquired in late 2017.

Our acquisition of Zoosk is the most transformative deal in our history, and we expect the transaction to immediately strengthen our position in the online dating market. With the increased scale that results from the combination, we see a clear path to profitability improvements and greater opportunity to invest in innovation and growth initiatives that will drive shareholder value.”

With the addition of Zoosk, Spark will more than double in size and the combined business will be considerably more valuable than the two stand-alone entities: Following the completion of its integration plans, Spark expects to drive significant Adjusted EBITDA margin expansion.

In 2020, Spark expects Adjusted EBITDA to exceed $50M. Under the terms of the agreement, Spark will acquire 100% of Zoosk’s shares with a combination of cash and stock valuing the company at approximately $255M based on the closing price of Spark Networks SE stock on March 20.

Spark will issue 12.98M American Depository Shares valued at approximately $150M based on the closing price of Spark Networks SE stock of $11.53 on March 20.

Additionally, Zoosk shareholders will receive net cash consideration of $95M at closing and $10M via a deferred cash payment in December 2020, which will be funded through a new $120M senior secured debt facility.

The transaction is expected to close early in the third quarter of 2019.

LOV closed at $11.90.

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Verrica Pharmaceuticals reports positive data on its molluscum contagiosum drug

Verrica Pharmaceuticals presents results from Phase 3 clinical trials of VP-102

Verrica Pharmaceuticals reports positive data on its molluscum contagiosum drug, Stockwinners

Verrica Pharmaceuticals (VRCA) presented data from the company’s pivotal Phase 3 CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 trials of lead product candidate, VP-102, at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting being held in Washington, DC from March 1-5.

Both trials of VP-102 in patients with molluscum contagiosum successfully met their primary endpoints.

In each trial, a clinically and statistically significant proportion of patients treated with VP-102 demonstrated complete clearance of all treatable molluscum lesions in 12 weeks.

On average, molluscum can take approximately 13 months to resolve without treatment, and in some cases can remain unresolved for several years.

The two randomized, double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled trials evaluated the efficacy of dermal application of VP-102 compared to placebo in subjects with molluscum.

In total, the trials enrolled 528 subjects two years of age and older with molluscum at 31 centers in the U.S. Subjects were treated once every 21 days with topical solution of 0.7% cantharidin for up to four applications.

Complete clearance of molluscum lesions was evaluated by assessment of the number of lesions at study visits over 12 weeks. Results from CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 showed 46% and 54% of subjects treated with VP-102, respectively, achieved complete clearance of all treatable molluscum lesions at the end of the trials versus 18% and 13% of subjects in the placebo groups.

By Day 84, VP-102 treated subjects had a 69% and 83% mean reduction in the number of molluscum lesions, a pre-specified endpoint, in CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 respectively, compared to a 20% increase and a 19% reduction for subjects on placebo. VP-102 was well-tolerated in both trials, with no serious adverse events reported in VP-102 treated subjects.

The most frequently reported adverse events were application site reactions that are well-known, reversible side effects related to the mechanism of action of cantharidin, a blistering agent, which is the active ingredient in VP-102.

There were no treatment-related serious adverse events reported in CAMP-1 or CAMP-2. Verrica previously announced topline results from both trials on January 3, 2019.

Based on the positive results, the company plans to submit a New Drug Application for VP-102 in the second half of 2019. If approved, VP-102 would be the first FDA-approved treatment for molluscum contagiosum.


Molluscum contagiosum is a relatively common viral infection of the skin, mainly in children, Stockwinners.com

VRCA closed at $12.11.

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